Friday, March 11, 2011
Shock value is what keeps Conviction from being panned. It's not a good movie, but it tells a great story, one that is completely true and nothing short of shocking. Betty Anne Waters, a woman you may not have heard of but should due to her compelling story, invested her life, or at least a large portion of it, to bring her brother a new life. Known to be a bit of a local roué, wild with an occasional soft streak instead of the other way around, Kenny Waters was accused of a grisly murder in 1983 and sentenced for life. If the death penalty were legal in Massachusetts at the time, he would be dead and his sister would have done something else with her life. But as it stood, Kenny remained alive behind bars, and Betty, near and dear to her brother, set out to free him. This only meant getting her GED, going to law school, and becoming an attorney to defend Kenny. He has already been accused, and the only thing that Betty has to go on is her firm belief that the extent of her brother's misconduct did not spell murder. Conviction is not a very long movie, and it really rushes through the material. Watching it is like speed reading through a book, only glancing at the words to get the gist of the story. And also, the case itself isn't very interesting. It's very simple with the only evidence needed to prove Kenny's evidence is a DNA sample, which had only just been discovered at the time. There's also a little bit involving a corrupt cop with a vendetta against Kenny. The movie will probably remind you of the Denzel Washington movie, The Hurricane, a similar story that's hard to believe except that it's true. Conviction is full of convincing performances that elevate the film in what otherwise might have made a solid one hour PBS Special. Hilary Swank does her best work since Million Dollar Baby as Betty, though the fact that it's something other than her acting in Ameila offers reason to celebrate. Sam Rockwell, always amazing in his quiet roles, gives the boisterous Oscar buzz performance as Kenny, and Minnie Driver does the simple and solid perfectly as Betty's stalwart friend. Though the story here is pretty amazing, there's really not a whole lot to it. It could be summed up in a few sentences. This is an earnest and honest production that doesn't try to be a masterpiece. The bad definitely doesn't out weigh the good, but the only problem is that there's not enough of of the latter to really make the film more than just an inspiring story.